Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Having one person in charge of both sales and marketing makes sense for new startups and smaller businesses, but it’s tough. Other companies have entire teams dedicated to each function, yet you’re responsible for both creating pipeline and for closing opportunities.
You feel like you have to do everything. “Everything” is basically in your job description. But you don’t have to do it all. Instead, focus on doing these five things well:
1. Answer buyers’ top three questions on your website
Your website is working 24/7/365 for you. Every buyer visits it, and it needs to answer three questions before they can move forward.
Question 1: “What do you do?” Your website needs to say “We provide this product or service for this type of person to accomplish this goal.” That’s it. That’s your pitch. Make it simple and clear.
Question 2: “How much does it cost?” Show your pricing. If the cost is “it depends,” then either show a few plans with an extra “custom” option, or give a breakdown of what goes into each project and what those costs may be.
Question 3: “What does it look like?” Buyers want something tangible, even for digital products and services. Show screenshots or before-and-after examples. Give them a visual of what working with you will look and feel like.
Your website does not have to be fancy — even a one-page site can clearly explain what you do, show how much it costs and give a glimpse of your dashboard or services. But you’ve got to do it right. Bonus points if you make it easy for buyers to contact you through your website.
2. Build credibility through social media
Your target customers are paying attention to you online, even if they don’t “like” or comment. That means you need to be present and active. Every post or comment you make is a chance to build credibility and influence.
Pick two or three social media channels where your target customers spend their time. For many, that’s LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, but don’t limit yourself to the major platforms. It could be an online community group or forum that’s best.
Post something educational daily or as frequently as you can add value. What do your target customers need to know? How does your product or service work? If you can make it educational and entertaining, you’ve got something great — but prioritize educational.
Then, find people who work in your market or in a similar role who have larger followings than you. Comment something insightful on their posts, and ask questions. Use the platforms they’ve built to grow your own. This drives interest in you and what you offer, which turns into website traffic and conversations.
3. Do cold outreach right
One-person sales and marketing teams rarely have droves of potential buyers reaching out. You’ve got to source your own prospects. Email and LinkedIn (or Twitter or Facebook, etc.) can be great for starting conversations with potential customers, so long as you don’t go in for a direct pitch.
In most cases, one of two approaches works great:
Approach 1: “I’m trying to learn more about xyz, can I get your opinion?” They share their opinion, then you respond with “That makes sense. We offer abc. Would that be helpful for you? Others see these results.”
Approach 2: “We do abc, and I thought it might be a good fit for you because of xyz. Any interest in learning more?”
Cold outreach is still a numbers game — you’re going to miss more shots than you make — but start a conversation, and let the process work itself out.
4. Give a succinct product demo or consultation
Simplicity tends to win more business than professionalism. For product demos, ask your prospect what challenges they’re facing, then show how your product helps. You don’t need to show everything, just enough to get buy-in. Then ask if they care about everything else you do. Skip the slide deck, and just show the product. Keep it to 30 minutes or less.
For free consultations to sell a service, the same rules apply. Know what questions are most important to ask. Uncover their challenges, then show how you help. Before-and-after examples like in point 1 help here, too.
In both cases, gauge their interest and priority level, lay out the next steps to working with you, and ask if that sounds good — or just ask for the sale.
5. Follow up!
Most people aren’t ready to buy during the first sales conversation — though some are, and you definitely need to ask. Text, email, and call them as appropriate to understand where they are in the buying process and to keep them moving through your funnel until they purchase or tell you “no.” Don’t give up.
Keep it going
Momentum plays a huge role in sales and marketing. Create momentum by starting conversations through social media and cold outreach, and keep that momentum by having a website that answers buyers’ questions, giving simple demos and following up to close the deal.
You don’t have to do everything as a one-person sales and marketing team. Follow these five steps, and your pipeline will take care of itself.